I am 4 leaving the Dominican Republic on a big airplane.
Holding my mother’s hand, I am terrified.
I am given something to sleep,
I wake up in Aruba where another reality awaits me.
I am 6, in the first grade.
Teacher gives everyone a book,
gives me a white sheet of paper
Tells me to draw because I know nothing.
Everyday, after school she calls my mother.
Tells her that she probably was
another Latina that immigrated to iron on her back.
From 8 to 13 my father’s calls become less and less.
I silently decide I am going to forget I have one.
I am 14 wondering
why all my friends have gotten their periods
and I haven’t, they laugh at me getting left behind.
I am 15 getting bullied in class,
so I skip school for weeks at the time,
the teacher says I’m doing it on purpose
Immigrants, don’t get their hearts broken,
don’t need time to heal
I am just a waste of opportunity someone else would love to have
I am 16,
being accused of having an affair with my favorite teacher
by someone who saw me give her a hug.
I am banned from being around
the only person who didn’t make me feel guilt for existing.
I am 17 deciding that I am done
with being the big girl in the room,
I cut all of my food portions in half,
I drop 50 pounds and suddenly
I exist to people who have known me my whole life
I am 18 and I’m in love with a girl who has a boyfriend.
It felt like I was betraying God,
but I couldn’t fight the feeling.
I’m 19 waiting for my papers to be ready,
working for a man who tells me,
his spirits have told him they see light in me.
He calls me a blessing so much I start to believe it.
I am 20 forgetting the pain,
wearing red lipstick and my hair out,
I am healing at a fast pace.
I am 22, telling a story of not giving up,
of never allowing life to make you a victim
Of getting up, and fighting for your dreams
I am 23 and I meet my favorite writer,
she says I am full of joy.
Not in spite of the pain, but because of it.
The story to this poem was not only captivating, but also so perfectly penned that I can imagine this person growing, living, and even ultimately thriving after moving on from their troubles. There were great images highlighting different moments of each year, each one even more powerful than the last. The title was a great fit for the way it was expressed and I can't even begin to imagine how wonderfully this would be expressed when read aloud, but it is most definitely a fantastic slam piece.